Harvard researchers: Interstellar object could have been an alien probe

Ben Goldsmith's tweet has been roundly mocked online

Oumuamua, which means "a messenger from afar arriving first" in Hawaiian, was discovered on October 19, 2017. According to the paper which was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters on 12 of November, the researches pointed out that this can be a completely working probe which has been sent here with the intention to observe earth and its surroundings by an alien civilization.

According to Vox, the cigar-shaped object has been tumbling through our solar system at speeds that have allowed it to overcome the sun's gravitational pull.

Oumuamua is the first object of interstellar origin observed in the Solar System.

"Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that 'Oumuamua is a lightsail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment", the paper says. But 'Oumuamua didn't have a "coma", the atmosphere and dust that surrounds comets as they melt. Bialy and Loeb believe the object could be a light-sail, which would have used the radiation pressure of starlight - or perhaps even light from a giant laser - to reach the solar system.

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The researchers noted in a pre-print of the article that it was an "exotic scenario", but that "Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilisation".

"Oumuamua showed unusual features since its discovery". Yesterday other astronomers criticized Loeb that he had announced this only to draw the attention of the world and for publicity as there was lack of evidence to be an alien influence. "Like many researchers, I would very much like to believe that there is irrefutable proof of extraterrestrial life, but that is not the case", says Alan Fitzsimmons, astronomer at Queens University. "And some of the arguments in this study are based on numbers with large uncertainties". "You have to understand that for scientists, the craziest idea is always publishable, as long as there is a tiny chance that it is not wrong", she wrote on Twitter. Asked if he believed the hypothesis he put forward, Bialy told AFP: "I wouldn't say I "believe" it is sent by aliens, as I am a scientist, and not a believer, I rely on evidence to put forward possible physical explanation for observed phenomena".

"It is impossible to guess the objective behind Oumuamua without more data", Loeb was quoted as saying.

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